Identities formed with proper names may be contingent. this claim is made first through an example. the paper then develops a theory of the semantics of concrete things, with contingent identity as a consequence. this general theory lets concrete things be made up canonically from fundamental physical entities. it includes theories of proper names, variables, cross-world identity with respect to a sortal, and modal and dispositional properties. the theory, it is argued, is coherent and superior to its rivals, in that (...) it stems naturally from a systematic picture of the physical world. (shrink)
In these three Tanner lectures, distinguished ethical theorist Allan Gibbard explores the nature of normative thought and the bases of ethics. In the first lecture he explores the role of intuitions in moral thinking and offers a way of thinking about the intuitive method of moral inquiry that both places this activity within the natural world and makes sense of it as an indispensable part of our lives as planners. In the second and third lectures he takes up the kind (...) of substantive ethical inquiry he has described in the first lecture, asking how we might live together on terms that none of us could reasonably reject. Since working at cross purposes loses fruits that might stem from cooperation, he argues, any consistent ethos that meets this test would be, in a crucial way, utilitarian. It would reconcile our individual aims to establish, in Kant's phrase, a "kingdom of ends." The volume also contains an introduction by Barry Stroud, the volume editor, critiques by Michael Bratman (Stanford University), John Broome (Oxford University), and F. M. Kamm (Harvard University), and Gibbard's responses. (shrink)
The concepts of meaning and mental content resist naturalistic analysis. This is because they are normative: they depend on ideas of how things ought to be. Allan Gibbard offers an expressivist explanation of these 'oughts': he borrows devices from metaethics to illuminate deep problems at the heart of the philosophy of language and thought.
What are ethical judgments about? And what is their relation to practice? How can ethical judgment aspire to objectivity? The past two decades have witnessed a resurgence of interest in metaethics, placing questions such as these about the nature and status of ethical judgment at the very center of contemporary moral philosophy. Moral Discourse and Practice: Some Philosophical Approaches is a unique anthology which collects important recent work, much of which is not easily available elsewhere, on core metaethical issues. Naturalist (...) moral realism, once devastated by the charge of "naturalistic fallacy," has been reinvigorated, as have versions of moral realism that insist on the discontinuity between ethics and science. Irrealist, expressivist programs have also developed with great subtlety, encouraging the thought that a noncognivist account may actually be able to explain ethical judgments' aspirations to objectivity. Neo-Kantian constructivist theories have flourished as well, offering hope that morality can be grounded in a plausible conception of reasonable conduct. Together, the positions advanced in the essays collected here address these recent developments, constituting a rich array of approaches to contemporary moral philosophy's most fundamental debates. An extensive introduction by Darwall, Gibbard, and Railton is also included, making this volume the most comprehensive and up-to-date work of its kind. Moral Discourse is ideally suited for use in courses in contemporary ethics, ethical theory, and metaethics. (shrink)
Rawls' Difference Principle asserts that a basic economic structure is just if it makes the worst off people as well off as is feasible. How well off someone is is to be measured by an ???index??? of ???primary social goods???. It is this index that gives content to the principle, and Rawls gives no adequate directions for constructing it. In this essay a version of the difference principle is proposed that fits much of what Rawls says, but that makes use (...) of no index. Instead of invoking an index of primary social goods, the principle formulated here invokes a partial ordering of prospects for opportunities. (shrink)
INTRODUCTION We look to rights for protection. The hope of advocates of “human rights” has been that certain protections might be accorded to allof humanity. Even in a world only a minority of whose inhabitants live under liberal democratic regimes, the hope is, certain standards accepted in the liberal democracies will gain universal recognition and respect. These include liberty of persons as opposed to enslavement, freedom from cruelty, freedom from arbitrary execution, from arbitrary imprisonment, and from arbitrary deprivation of property (...) or livelihood, freedom of religion, and freedom of inquiry and expression. Philosophers, of course, concern themselves with the theory of rights, and that is partly because of the ways questions of rights bear on fundamental normative theory. By far the most highly developed general normative theory has been utilitarianism. Now many opponents of utilitarianism argue that considerations of rights discredit utilitarianism, that utilitarianism yields conclusions about rights that we would normally regard as faulty, and that moreover, the reasons for regarding those conclusions as faulty turn out, upon examination, to be stronger than the reasons forregarding utilitarianism as valid. A valid theory cannot have faulty conclusions, and so thinkingabout rights shows utilitarianism not to be a valid normative theory. Jeremy Bentham, the founder of the utilitarian movement in nineteenth century England, accepted the incompatibility of utilitarianism and “the rights of man, ” and rejected talkof the latter as “anarchical fallacies”. His great successor John Stuart Mill, however, argued that a perceptive and far–sighted utilitarianism supports strong rights both of democratic participation and of individual freedom of action. (shrink)
Is there anything morally special about free exchange? In asking this, I am asking not only about extreme, so-called “libertarian” views, on which free exchange is sacrosanct, but about more widespread, moderate views, on which there is at least something morally special about free exchange. On these more compromising views, other moral considerations may override the moral importance of free exchange, but even when rights of free exchange are restricted for good reason, something morally important is lost. For some, free (...) exchange may preserve liberty, in some morally significant sense, or realize some such moral value as “to each his own.” Alternatively, a system of free exchange may have a special moral status by virtue of the kinds of pragmatic arguments that economists give, arguments that free exchange produces good social results. Whether free exchange has any such virtues as these is the broad question I address in this paper. I offer what I have to say somewhat in the spirit of an overview. Philosophical scrutiny and economic analysis combine, it seems to me, to delineate fairly clearly what is, and what is not, morally special about free exchange. (shrink)